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Turner says 7-on-7 league is a vital part of training

When Luther Welsh retired at the end of last season after 19 years coaching Thomson High School football, Milan Turner assumed the post.

The former Emanuel County Institute coach got a taste of what to expect during the Greater Augusta Fellowship of Christian Athletes 7-on-7 passing league.

Upwards of 15 teams gathered at Greenbrier High School for scrimmages on Tuesdays in June. Greenbrier has been the site of the league for years.

Though the final scheduled event on June 28 was cut short by thunderstorms and the previous week's was canceled because of extreme heat, Turner said his players still saw plenty of benefits.

Coaches use the unique format to install schemes and to see how their offensive and defensive skill players will compete on the field. They don't wear pads, but the speed in the 30-minute scrimmages is similar to a game.

For Turner, 7-on-7 is just one element of the big picture.

"I look at a football season like a puzzle; there are a lot of different pieces," Turner said. "With things like 7-on-7, weight-lifting, running and sprinting, conditioning, practice and fundamentals, this is just one piece of it.

"But it's all very important."

He said his favorite part of the format is that it gives his players a chance to get a taste of competition during the off-season.

"That's what you want to do is see your kids competing," he said. "It's not in pads, but it's as close as you can get without being in pads."

The leagues feature a multitude of 30-minute match-ups on three different fields, often between teams that don't normally play each other.

The 7-on-7 work was particularly useful for a pair of standout rising seniors in Columbia County: Greenbrier's Thomas Brown and Augusta Christian's Eric Fogle.

Brown, a safety, has always been known as a staunch defender with incredible athleticism. This year, however, he's trying his hand at wide receiver to try to bolster the team's offense.

"It's been a little different, but I'm enjoying it," Brown said. "It was kind of difficult actually trying to catch the ball instead of trying to break it up.

"But I'm getting it down."

With the Lions, who play in the South Carolina Independent School Association, Fogle will be asked to replace a dynamic duo of recently graduated senior skill players in Matt Rogers and Christian Croft.

Like Brown, he plays both sides of the ball -- wide receiver and linebacker -- and punts.

"I like just being with the team and just being able to work on our offense and defense," Fogle said of 7-on-7. "It's a lot different playing against public schools because we play private schools. It's a lot of good competition."

Web posted on Thursday, July 07, 2011

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